Falwell Loses Web Site Dispute

According to a report from the Associated Press (AP), the Rev. Jerry Falwell can't stop a Web site from making fun of him. An international arbiter of Internet domain names, The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), has denied Falwell's complaint against Gary Cohn, owner of www.jerryfalwell.com. The panel ruled against Falwell's claim that his name is a "common-law" trademark. "There are many well-known ministers, religious figures and academics. Are their sermons or lectures to be considered commercial goods?" they asked. AP reported that the decision also applies to www.jerryfallwell.com, another Falwell parody.

The disagreement began last fall, according to AP, when Falwell's attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cohn. In February, Falwell filed a complaint with WIPO. According to AP, Cohn created the site after hearing Falwell say that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were the result of God lifting his protection from Americans because of their immoral behavior. When he heard of the WIPO decision, Cohn said, "God has lifted his veil of protection over Jerry Falwell ministries."